NOTE FROM DIANNE BERLIN, coordinator of CasinoFreePA:

This eulogy is for a man I never met in person but over the Internet and on the phone.  

He was a recovered gambler who tried to get gamblers to speak out about the painful problems gambling brought to not just the gambler but also to  his or her family. I usually do not share things so very personal but this is so beautiful that we can all learn much from this eulogy delivered by his daughter.  She gave me permission to share.

I may not have a pension from all the years I spent in volunteer activities but  I have been privileged to have so many special people cross my path through this life and this is a prime example. 

Without any action on my part, he tried to get the GA hierarchy to let me speak at their conference but with no success. However, he tried and knew that the warts needed to be exposed not covered up any longer.   How many blessings he gave to me and to so many others.   He will be missed.

Sharing the eulogy I spoke and presented at my dad’s service on Monday with only the courage he taught me…

The Measure of a Man…

Not- How did he die? But- How did he live?

Not- What did he gain? But- What did he give?

These are the things that measure the worth of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Not- What was his station? But- had he a heart? And- How did he play his God given part?

Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer? To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?

Not- What was his church? Not- What was his creed? But- Had he befriended those really in need?

Not- What did the sketch in the newspaper say? But- How many were sorry when he passed away?

These are the things that measure the worth of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Dad got a new lease on life last Mother’s Day. It was his grandson Kenny’s 9th birthday when we got the call that we had an organ donor. We will always be thankful for that extra year that he got to spend with us making memories to treasure and for the selfless act of his organ donor for granting him that extra year. It was a reminder for all of us to never take life for granted. Life is too short. We need to cherish the little things in life…they become the big things! He worked his whole life trying to make life better for his family, yet all that matters now is time and our cherished memories.

My dad battled addiction with great humility and he commanded local GA support groups to walk away with strength, courage, faith and some amazing friends. We all have our faults and he was no different. He often said what was on his mind before he thought twice about it. My mom was always apologizing for him. But that was him…no filters! I’d like to share kind Words from a friend Jim sponsored in his GA Group:

Once in a while, we often have occasion to meet someone whom truly changes our lives for the better, especially in times of great need. I would be completely remiss if I didn’t take a moment and let Jim’s family personally know that their father, grandfather and husband played such an incredible life-changing role in my life. I am a vastly better husband, father and person for having known “Jim G”.

All of this made him a stronger person and the man we all knew and loved. Forgiveness is the most powerful form of love and we all granted him that. Dad taught us all to be better parents and role models, his love was selfless. He always wanted the best for me and my brothers, his pride and joy. God blessed him and Nanny with all grandsons and they loved having a house full of boys! My dad also taught us how to be independent and how to survive on our own. I’ll never forget when he took me for my first test drive and he stopped in the middle of a shopping center on a busy Saturday afternoon to teach me how to change a tire. He told me I couldn’t drive a car until I learned how to change a tire by myself…and so I did! He reminded me often of the time that we headed off to college and he threatened to turn the car around half way to Pittsburgh if my mom and I didn’t stop crying.

Dad was a coach, Little League president, umpire, Boy Scout leader, he attended pageants and dance recitals and countless baton competitions to name a few when we were growing up. He was even Police Man of the Year! He was also a jack of all trades from electrical to plumbing, you name it, he fixed it. He was one of Home Depot’s best customers!

Dad’s simplest pleasures were enjoying a fresh cup of coffee and reading the morning paper while greeting all of Mom’s daycare families in the morning. He loved to hate the Phillies but when his grandson Andrew was born the day of the Phillies World Series parade it was one of his prouder moments for sure! Anyone who knew Jim knows how much he loved working in his yard. He took such pride in it that he earned the nickname “Longwood” because it was in better shape than Longwood Gardens!

Shortly after graduating from Pottsville High School, Jim joined the US Navy and sailed on the USS Saratoga. Four years later he joined the police academy and fell in love with my mom…I came along shortly thereafter;) He used to say that he was too manly to have a daughter, but he had me first and then came his two boys Jimmy & Kenny one right after the other. Our father is our very first hero and this is certainly true in my case. I would do anything for him and he would do the same for any one of us. He told me there was no greater love than becoming a father…until he became a grandfather!

His first grandson Dylan was his pride and joy. He shared his middle name ‘James’ and after diagnosis Pappy soon became one of his best nurses. He accompanied me to many doctor appointments and his new passion became a quest for a cure for Tay-Sachs! Now the two of them are playing base ball on their very own Field of Dreams.

He couldn’t have been more proud to watch his four grandsons playing baseball together this year. Brady and Devin played Teeball for the Sand Gnats and Kenny and Brady played for the Rangers. His son-in-law Brian was the coach for all four and I’m sure he reminisced about the days when he was standing in the dugout with his own boys coaching the A’s or the Red Sox. “Don’t push them too hard” he would say, just let them enjoy the chance to play. Watching Brady play football made him proud, cheering on 85 yard touchdown runs and an amazing season was fun. He won Rookie of the Year & made the All Star Team. Kenny joined the school track team this year and made Pappy proud as he broke a few school records & won Defensive Player of the Year for basketball.

Devin and Andrew were his little buddies. He and Mom just recently took them to the Camden Aquarium by train for fun. Devin won a trophy as big as he is for a Home Run Derby contest and he won Rookie of the Year for a wiffle ball tournament. Pappy told him he must take after him. Andrew is riding motorcycles and doing everything his Daddy loved to do as a kid.

I leave you with the words Jim’s doctor shared with us on the day he passed…

There are three things we should all be able to leave this Earth knowing: To have made a difference and contributed To love and to be loved To have had fun!

Dad did all three.

You leave behind quite a legacy, Dad. I know you would be proud of all who came out to join the crowd. You discovered the hard way that Life’s riches cannot be bought. They are things you cannot touch or collect like happiness and love that must be taught. Jimmy, Kenny and I are filled with pride knowing all you overcame to become the best. You’d give the shirt off of your back and the shoes off your feet. You are our hero. You were also my GPS and now I will be lost without you!

We have witnessed the true meaning of unconditional love through the many years of love and happiness you and mom shared and most recently, by watching mom’s countless nights without sleep by your side with only positive thoughts and inspiring words to comfort all of us. We JUST BELIEVE you will protect and watch over us always until we meet again. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. Thank you for the moments that took our breath away, Dad! We love you!

May God grant us the Serenity to know the things we cannot change, the courage to overcome the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.

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